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Local Organization Helps Feed Hundreds During National Volunteer Week

SERVPRO of Cape May & Cumberland Counties (SERVPRO) participated in National Volunteer Week last week by volunteering for Gateway Community Action Partnership (GCAP). The SERVPRO volunteers were assigned the GCAP Emergency Assistance Food Pantry and Gleaning Project Center (Center) at 65 Manheim Avenue in Bridgeton. Minerva Alvarado, SERVPRO’s Marketing Development coordinator and member of the Gateway Board of Directors, organized the volunteer effort with Mayor Albert Kelly and Marcus Weaver, GCAP director of Agriculture & Food Initiatives.

Along with Minerva, the following employees took part in the volunteer project: Colleen Ayala, Harold Lapp, Jr. and David Brace. Together they volunteered for eight hours over two days. In that short time, the Center was able to provide food for 186 families (almost 600 individuals).

The Center obtains food from multiple sources: The Community Food Bank of New Jersey (CFBNJ), donations from local stores including ShopRite, Aldi, Walmart, Lidl and Target, and from other nonprofits like Sysco. In season, produce is donated by local farms, the Vineland Produce Auction and GCAP Mill Creek Urban Farm. When extra food is available, the Center will deliver door-to-door to Bridgeton Housing Authority sites as well as the Good Shepherd Dining Hall at St. Theresa’s Church in Bridgeton, Spirit and Truth Ministries in Vineland and to 115 seniors at Spring Gardens in Bridgeton. The Center also donates to dozens of other local food pantries, including WIC Programs, Head Start Centers and Family Success Centers.

Denise Hladun and Christina Faulk from the CFBNJ stopped in to meet the employees and volunteers after hearing from Minerva that SERVPRO volunteers would be at the Center.

“We are here to help and provide food to residents in need,” said Mayor Kelly. “This mission is important and special to me.” The Center was just short of distributing one million pounds of food in 2020.

GCAP’s Food Distribution Days fall on the last full week of each month on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. The next Distribution Days are May 24, 26 and 28. If you’re interested in volunteering, contact Marcus Weaver, or 856-392-4195 (Spanish is a plus!)!

“It’s a real pleasure to have Minerva and our Business Development Team on board wanting to volunteer, especially during National Volunteer Week. All together, we volunteer for every chamber of commerce in Cape May and Cumberland counties as well as for Tri-county Rotary, M25, and The Salvation Army. We care about the communities where we live and work – this is just one way to do our part to show local residents that SERVPRO cares,” said Barbara Stafford-Jones, owner of SERVPRO of Cape May & Cumberland Counties.